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Nwora leads No. 4 Louisville past Indiana State 91-62

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Jordan Nwora scored 21 points, Dwayne Sutton added 14 and No. 4 Louisville shot 59% from the field to run past Indiana State 91-62 on Wednesday night.

Two days after moving up a spot in the AP Top 25, the Cardinals (3-0) made 14 of their first 17 shots for a 16-point lead through 11 minutes on the way to a 47-26 advantage at the break. Nwora’s 14 points, including a pair of 3s got Louisville going, and Sutton had 10 before the break.

Nwora, a junior forward, finished 5 of 10 shooting for his third consecutive game of 20 points or more. Sutton and Steven Enoch each grabbed 10 rebounds as Louisville owned the glass 42-21. The Cardinals shot above 50% for the third consecutive game.

Tyreke Key led the Sycamores (0-2) with 20 points including four 3-pointers, two of which came during a 14-2 early second-half run that got them within 51-40. They got no closer as Louisville quickly answered to stretch the lead above 20 as it shot 58% in the final 20 minutes.

Indiana State shot 34% in its only game this season against a Power Five opponent. The Sycamores haven’t beaten a ranked opponent since topping Butler 72-71 in December 2016.

BIG PICTURE

Indiana State: After making two of their first three baskets, the Sycamores were no match physically against Louisville’s taller lineup. Perimeter shooting was a bright spot as they extended their streak to 345 games with at least one 3-pointer.

Louisville: The Cardinals seemingly couldn’t miss at the start and stayed hot throughout. They never let up even after the outcome was settled.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Cardinals took a step toward remaining in the top five with another game to play this week.

UP NEXT

Indiana State faces Ball State on Sunday in Indianapolis.

Louisville hosts North Carolina Central on Sunday in the third of a four-game homestand.

No. 2 Duke rolls past Central Arkansas 105-54 for 3-0 start

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DURHAM, N.C. — Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is pushing his young Blue Devils to worry about defense above all else, both in the intensity of their fullcourt pursuit and their ability to attack the right matchup.

That approach, he said, is “how our team is going to be built.”

And the second-ranked Blue Devils are showing the ability to meet the Hall of Famer’s expectation in their first games together.

Freshman Matthew Hurt scored a season-high 19 points to help Duke beat Central Arkansas 105-54 on Tuesday night, winning easily with overwhelming defense despite seeing starting point guard Tre Jones exit after being shaken up on a first-half collision.

Fellow freshman Vernon Carey Jr. added season highs of 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Blue Devils (3-0), who ran off 19 straight points to build a 25-5 lead by midway through the opening half. That margin reached 57-20 by halftime, with Duke shooting nearly 57% and scoring 26 points off turnovers for the game.

“I’d have to say our defense is probably the best part of our offense right now,” senior Jack White said. “We’re forcing turnovers and getting out in transition and really just getting some easy buckets to start the game so guys can get in a groove.”

Jones — the returning floor leader for a team that has turned over its rotation with another recruiting wave — played 9 minutes. He left after colliding with Central Arkansas’ Aaron Weidenaar as the two chased a loose rebound with 7:57 left before halftime.

Jones laid on the court holding his head then rolled over onto his stomach while being attended by team medical staff, though he was able to eventually walk slowly to the bench. He spent the second half on the bench talking with coaches and teammates wearing a warmup shirt over his jersey.

Krzyzewski said Jones appears to be fine.

Rylan Bergersen scored 13 points for the Bears (1-3), who were overwhelmed from the start with long stretches between baskets and a series of throwaways and deflected-pass turnovers. Central Arkansas shot just 5 of 23 (21.7%) with 15 turnovers in the opening half.

“You fight pressure at the rim,” Bears coach Russ Pennell said. “And I thought we did the opposite. … We have a rule: we don’t throw bounce passes on the perimeter. We threw like four that got intercepted. And I think that’s what pressure does to you. It makes you do things that are kind of uncharacteristic.”

BIG PICTURE

Central Arkansas: This was one of several tough matchups on the schedule for the Bears, who have four returning starters and are picked to finish fifth in the Southland Conference. They lost by 44 points at No. 24 Baylor to open the season, and their second game against a power-conference matchup didn’t go much better.

Duke: The Blue Devils are tinkering with a deep lineup to figure out what works best, though they’re positioned to climb to No. 1 in next week’s AP Top 25 with top-ranked Kentucky’s home loss to Evansville on Tuesday night.

QUICK WIT

Krzyzewski said Jones took a hit to the temple in the collision but was “laughing and joking” afterward.

“I asked him if he knew my name,” Krzyzewski said. “He said, `Michael,’ which was kind of bold on his part.”

NEW LOOKS

Hurt started the first two games but came off the bench in favor of White, then had an immediate impact with 10 first-half points and started the second half over White. Duke also got a look at freshman Wendell Moore Jr. running the point to start the second half with Jones out.

“We’re just looking at different combinations,” Krzyzewski said.

TIP-INS

Duke had 14 steals Tuesday, and its 37 steals through the first three games are its most since the 2006-07 season. … Freshman Cassius Stanley had 13 points and made all five of his shots. He’s now shooting 81.8% (18 of 22), trailing only Jahlil Okafor (.833 in 2014-15), Cherokee Parks (.824 in 1991-92) and Zion Williamson (.821 last year) for the best shooting percentage by a Duke freshman through their first three games. … Central Arkansas shot 3 for 15 from 3-point range and finished with 21 turnovers.

UP NEXT

Central Arkansas: The Bears host Little Rock on Sunday.

Duke: The Blue Devils host Georgia State on Friday.

Monday Overreactions: The Pac-12’s start, Texas is a contender, Florida’s overrated

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PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Tyrese Maxey, Kentucky

Maxey was the best player at the Champions Classic last week, scoring 26 points in the final 30 minutes as the Wildcats picked off then-No. 1 Michigan State.

I wrote about it from Madison Square Garden. Kentucky was looking for a star heading into this season. We didn’t know who their best player was going to be this year, and to be frank, we don’t know for sure if it actually is Maxey or if he just got hot at the right time in the right building.

But if Maxey can end up being something close to the guy that we all saw in the World’s Most Famous Arena on Tuesday night, it is unquestionably a difference-maker for the Wildcats. The knock on this group was that there was no clear answer about who is the go-to guy, who is going to be asked to have the ball in their hands, who is going to be capable of making plays at the end of a clock.

Well, now it seems that we have an answer.

It’s Tyrese Maxey.

TEAM OF THE WEEK: Texas Longhorns

Texas went into Mackey Arena on Saturday evening and knocked off No. 23 Purdue, 70-66. There are a number reasons why this performance was impressive, from the emergence of Jericho Sims and Gerald Liddell to how well Matt Coleman played to the toughness shown by Andrew Jones in grabbing the game-sealing rebound and knocking down four straight free throws in the final minute.

But to me, what was so impressive about this win was that Texas actually looked like a competent offensive team. We knew this group was going to be able to guard. They’ve always been able to guard under Shaka Smart, and this season they added defensive mastermind Luke Yaklich to the coaching staff. No, the reason to be bullish on Texas – the reason I think that they are the second-best team in the Big 12 – is because they sliced and diced a good Purdue defense.

There are shooters on this roster. There are multiple playmakers on the floor at any given time. They may not have the lottery pick, but Jericho Sims can do a lot of the same things.

Watch out for the Longhorns.

MONDAY’S OVERREACTIONS

THE PAC-12 IS ACTUALLY GOOD

Last season, the Pac-12 was an utter disgrace. The league put three teams in the NCAA tournament because Oregon found a way to win the automatic bid. They got their brains beat in during non-conference play, and there wasn’t a single team from the conference that finished higher than a No. 9 seed in the NCAA tournament.

This year is an entirely different story.

Five days into the college basketball season, the Pac-12 is 18-1 overall, and there are some pretty good wins in the mix. Arizona smacked around Illinois. Washington beat Baylor on a neutral court. Oregon has a couple of impressive wins over Mountain West teams. Oregon State beat Iowa State. Utah beat Nevada. Hell, the only loss any team in the Pac-12 suffered came when Arizona State lost to Colorado, another Pac-12 team, in China in a non-league game.

At this point last season, the Pac-12 only had three losses to their name. But they had not won a single game against a high-major opponent had seen Washington get blown out by Auburn, Cal get blown out by Yale and USC to lose to a Vanderbilt team that went winless in the SEC.

ARIZONA IS THE BEST TEAM IN THE PAC-12

I came into the season thinking that Oregon would probably be the best team in the conference. After watching them comeback against Baylor on Friday, I thought that Washington would be the best team in the league.

But at this point, I think I’ve come around to the idea that it’s Arizona. Nico Mannion looks like he is going to be the real deal. He put 23 points and eight assists on Ayo Dosunmu and Illinois, who forced Cassius Winston into a nine-turnover game last season. Josh Green is making shots from the perimeter. Zeke Nnaji has been one of the biggest surprises of the early season.

I’m buying this Arizona team early. Get on board while you can.

(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

JADEN MCDANIELS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PLAYER IN THE LEAGUE

To be clear, I don’t think he’s the best player in the league. I don’t think he’s the most valuable player in the league. Hell, I don’t think that he is either of those things for his own team.

But McDaniels is the guy that is going to determine who wins the Pac-12 this season. He’s just such a weapon in this zone because of his length. Mike Hopkins has been using him at the top (in the two) of his 2-3 zone, and that created a lot of problems for Baylor shooters getting used to his 6-foot-10 frame. And then there are the things that he can do offensively, where he has so much more skill and polish than I initially thought he would.

Put another way, McDaniels was just fantastic during the comeback against Baylor. If the plays like that as opposed to playing like a 195 pound wing that hasn’t quite grown into his height, the Huskies are going to be a nightmare.

FLORIDA IS OVERRATED

I was very surprised by just how slow and small Florida looked when they took on Florida State in Gainesville on Sunday afternoon. Granted, this was a tough matchup for the Gators. The Seminoles overplay passing lanes and switch everything, and that basically dares opponents to try and beat them 1-on-1. That’s tough to deal with for anyone.

But it’s particularly problematic for a Florida team that lacks playmaking and features a point guard that is, relatively speaking, slow and unathletic. Nembhard couldn’t create off the bounce, and when he couldn’t create, Florida’s offense slowed to a crawl.

There aren’t many teams out there that can guard the way Florida State can, and the Gators were certainly not aided by the fact that their good three-point shooters spent Sunday firing up brick after brick, but I’m much more concerned about Florida’s future now than I was before Sunday.

AUBURN’S WIN SAID MORE ABOUT DAVIDSON THAN IT DID ABOUT AUBURN

I really thought Davidson was going to have a chance to win the Atlantic 10 and make a run to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament. I’m not sure I believe that anymore, not after they were completely taken out of anything they want to run by Bruce Pearl and the Auburn Tigers. Davidson just could not deal with that level of athleticism. They missed roughly 800 layups  on Friday, they committed head-scratching, self-inflicted turnovers and they couldn’t keep out of foul trouble thanks to a lack of size inside.

And yet, they were a bucket away from having a chance to win this game on the road.

That’s not a good sign for Auburn.

College Basketball Top 25 Power Rankings: Kentucky’s No. 1 as the top reshuffles

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There was definitely some shuffling at the top of the rankings this week.

Kentucky jumped up to No. 1 after they, as the No. 2 team in the country, knocked off then-No. 1 Michigan State. The Spartans fell to No. 4, behind No. 2 Louisville – who looked awesome in two wins, including a road win against Miami – and No. 3 Duke – who knocked off No. 5 Kansas.

To be perfectly frank, I don’t really see all that much difference between the teams in the top five, and if you were going to tell me that any one of them actually was the best team in college basketball, I might believe it.

Hell, I think that Villanova and Gonzaga probably belong somewhere in that conversation, too. Maybe even a team like Arizona or Washington as well.

It’s early in the year so these things are going to constantly change, but this is where I currently stand.

1. KENTUCKY (2-0, Last week: 2)
2. LOUISVILLE (2-0, 4)
3. DUKE (2-0, 6)
4. MICHIGAN STATE (1-1, 1)
5. KANSAS (1-1, 3)
6. VILLANOVA (1-0, 5)
7. GONZAGA (2-0, 8)
8. MARYLAND (2-0, 9)
9. VIRGINIA (2-0, 10)
10. TEXAS TECH (2-0, 11)
11. OREGON (2-0, 12)
12. SETON HALL (2-0, 13)
13. NORTH CAROLINA (2-0, 14)
14. ARIZONA (2-0, 16)
15. UTAH STATE (2-0, 15)
16. SAINT MARY’S (1-0, 17)
17. XAVIER (2-0, 18)
18. LSU (1-0, 19)
19. FLORIDA (1-1, 7)
20. MEMPHIS (2-0, 21)
21. WASHINGTON (1-0, NR)
22. AUBURN (2-0, 22)
23. TENNESSEE (1-0, 23)
24. OHIO STATE (2-0, 25)
25. TEXAS (2-0, NR)

NEW ADDITIONS: No. 21 Washington, No. 25 Texs
DROPPED OUT: No. 20 Baylor, No. 24 VCU

Nwora, Enoch lead No. 5 Louisville past Youngstown St. 78-55

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Jordan Nwora scored 21 points to lead No. 5 Louisville, which capitalized on some streaky shooting, to a 78-55 victory in its home opener Sunday over Youngstown State.

The Cardinals (2-0) made the first 11 shots to jump out to a 24-8 lead. They then started the second half making seven of their first nine shots to put away the Penguins (1-1).

The Penguins shot just 35.3% in the first half, but Darius Quisenberry hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to cut the Cardinals lead to 38-31 at the break. However, Youngstown State couldn’t carry that momentum into the second half as they missed 13 of their first 17 second-half shots.

Steven Enoch added 17 points and a career-high 14 rebounds for Louisville, which also got 16 points from Ryan McMahon. Louisville posted 22 assists, with Darius Perry dishing out a career-best 12.

Perry, a junior guard, also added 10 points.

Louisville led by as many as 24 points in the second half.

Naz Bohannon led the Penguins, which outrebounded Louisville 46-38, with 14 points. Quisenberry added 11.

BIG PICTURE

Youngstown State: After dispatching Division III Thiel College by 48 points in their season opener, the Penguins looked like they would quickly find themselves on the opposite end of such a beatdown Sunday. However, they more than held their own against a bigger Louisville team, using 11 first-half offensive rebounds to generate 16 second-chance points and stay in the game.

Louisville: The Cardinals shot better than 50 percent from the floor for the second straight game. While there were some defensive issues inside during the first half, the Cardinals got those corrected in the second half and eventually put away the Penguins.

UP NEXT

Youngstown State travels to Lafayette, La., on Friday to face Louisiana.

Louisville hosts Indiana State on Wednesday night.

FSU upsets No. 6 Florida 63-51, extends streak to six straight wins in series

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Devin Vassell scored 13 points, M.J. Walker added 12 and Florida State upset No. 6 Florida 63-51 Sunday, extending its series winning streak to six.

The Seminoles (1-1) avoided their first 0-2 start since 2000 thanks to suffocating defense that forced the rival Gators (1-1) into 16 turnovers and a woeful shooting performance. Florida was 14 of 50 from the field, including 4 of 22 from 3-point range.

Florida’s football team scored more points this week that its basketball team.

The Gators, a six-point favorite at home, expected some growing pains from a team that features graduate transfer Kerry Blackshear Jr., three sophomores and five freshmen. They clearly weren’t ready to match Florida State’s intensity.

A sellout crowd witnessed FSU take over late in the first half and really seize control after the break. The Gators went 10 minutes with just one field goal — a dunk on an inbound play — as Florida State pulled ahead 38-25 in the opening minutes of the second half. The ‘Noles went up by 14 on Anthony Polite’s 3-pointer with 9:31 to play.

The Seminoles made 11 of their first 20 shots in the second half. They also finished with five blocked shots and eight steals.

Malik Osborne chipped in 10 points for the visitors.

Keyontae Johnson led the Gators with 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting. Blackshear had 10 points and 13 rebounds, his second double-double in as many games this season.

Florida State had little to worry about down the stretch, a common occurrence against Florida in recent years. The Gators lost to FSU by 17 points in 2017 and by 21 in the season opener last year.

The blowout last November set the tone for Florida’s up-and-down season. The Gators still made the NCAA Tournament for the third consecutive season under coach Mike White, but White decided to clean house in the offseason.

New roster, similar result.

BIG PICTURE

Florida State: The Seminoles are the only Power 5 team to open the season with two true road games, losing by two points at Pittsburgh and then bouncing back against Florida, so coach Leonard Hamilton’s team might be better than many expected.

Florida: The Gators probably were overrated to begin the season because of the addition of Blackshear, the country’s most high-profile transfer. They expect their revamped roster to be considerably better and more in sync by the time Southeastern Conference play begins in January.

UP NEXT

Florida State: Hosts Western Carolina on Friday. The Seminoles have won 18 consecutive home openers.

Florida: Hosts Towson on Thursday. The teams last played in 1988.